Internet.org is an initiative that was started by Facebook Co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The aim of the initiative is that the internet is a human right and a basic human right at that.
Over the years the project has evolved and is now at a stage where it has an application that allows people access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable.
From the website, it is described as follows “The websites are available for free without data charges, and include content on things like news, employment, health, education and local information. By introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these websites, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.”
With the movement of #DataMustFall so ripe in South Africa, in my view, start-ups like these should be given more push and preference. Instead of giving people free Wifi hot spots, which is also not a bad idea, more energy should be focused on creating digital communities where people can access free information on education, jobs, health and all other socio-economic and political issues that face South Africa and the rest of the continent.
I normally walk past the Reavaya bus stations, which are government owned new forms of transport in South Africa; these bus shelters also offer free Wifi to commuters and also locals. I wish I could have access to view data from what the people are searching and downloading online. My issue here is that, most probably these users are using the free service to download movies, music and all other not so needed things. These services should provide the community with information and services that have value to change lives and also create a community of digital innovators.
The internet.org initiative also comes with the Innovation Challenge which is aimed at building apps, ideas, websites and/or online services that provide real value in the categories of education and empowerment, with a first prize winner getting $150,000 and $50,000 impact awards within each category. On the link, you can find the latest winners and more news.